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AUTHOR'S NOTE                                                                                             H
from the masters how to polish my style much as a "lathe
operator polishes metal". That letter from the great
writer was of tremendous value to me. I pondered over
every word he wrote, striving to draw a correct and
useful conclusion. Gorky helped me to realise that jour-
nalism and literature required unremitting work and as
much, if not more, study than any other profession. I
realised that a "by the way" attitude to journalism would
lead to nowhere, that you had to put your heart and
soul into it.
By that time I had graduated college and was working
at the dyeing-and-finishing or, as it was popularly known,
the "print" shop of the Proletarka Factory. After long
reflection I left the factory and joined the staff of Smena.
I was with Smena and then with Proletarskaya Pravda,
the Kalinin regional newspaper, right until the outbreak
of the Great Patriotic War.
Parallel with my newspaper work, I wrote short stories
but, remembering Gorky's advice, I published only a few.
In 1939 I had my first narrative, Hot Shop, published
in the magazine Oktyabr. I have to admit that both the
subject-line and the personalities were drawn from
reality, so much so that old-timers at the Kalinin carriage-
building works were quick to recognise their comrades.
The whole thing ended by the prototype of the hero in-
viting me to his wedding. The bride was the prototype of
my heroine. The guests at the wedding poked fun at me,
saying that the hero and the heroine had to complete the
work of the author by continuing his narrative and giv-
ing it a happy, albeit stereotype, ending.
Long experience as a newspaperman had helped me to
write my first narrative. But I gained my most valuable
experience as a writer during the Great Patriotic War,
when I was a Pravda war correspondent.
It is no secret that the heroes of A Story About a Real
Man and We—Soviet People are real, living men and
women, most of whom appear under their own or slight-
ly modified names. The idea of writing these books was
born in the editorial offices of Pravda. It happened like
In February 1942 the newspaper carried a story headed
Exploit of Matvei Kuzmin. That story, which I wrote